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The Benefits and Perils of Digital Publication

It seems that every other week there is a study extolling the virtues and desirability of digital publications. They make such claims as:

  • increased engagement (that is, more time spent with the issue),
  • greater appreciation for rich media (video, audio, slide shows, and so forth), and
  • improved esteem for the publication

While I don’t dispute findings such as these, their survey base can render any conclusions as errant. The problem is that surveys about digital publications involve talking with those who use digital publications. These folks elected to go digital because they prefer that format, therefore they will view it favorably, just as the surveys prove.

However, ask these same digital-centric questions of print subscribers and the opposite findings will most assuredly result: decreased engagement, less appreciation (that is, irritation) with rich media, and lowered esteem for the publication.

Again, this follows naturally. Readers using print do so because they prefer it. In comparison to digital, print subscribers will most likely have:

  • increased engagement (more time spent with the issue),
  • greater appreciation for traditional print advertising, and
  • improved esteem for the publication

It all depends on who you ask as to the results you will obtain. If the majority of subscribers opt for print, don’t project the opinions of digital readers on the entire subscriber base. Doing so will result in wrong conclusions and bad strategic decisions.

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